Alan Thomson, the former Racing Editor at the Daily Record, puts up five tips at Betfair Hurdle day at Newbury on Saturday. View selections below.
Willie Mullins plans to hit British bookies with a bunch of fives in the Betfair Hurdle and KALKIR (3.35) could be the pick of his quality quintet to deliver the knockout blow at Newbury.
Two Mullins horses have dominated the ante-post market, last weekend’s easy Leopardstown winner Blazer and the smart Modus, but French-bred Kalkir is not fully exposed. The five-year-old ran a cracker under multiple French champion jockey Jacques Ricou – who joined Mullins before Christmas – when splitting Henry Higgins and Desoto County in a 23-runner Leopardstown handicap in mid-January.
That was the gelding’s first run in 310 days and Ricou had him up with the pace throughout. Second at halfway, Kalkir briefly struck the front approaching the last flight, only to be swallowed up by the winner. A more circumspect ride from 3lb claimer David Mullins today could see him travelling strongly off a fierce gallop and he represents each-way value at around 16-1.
Philip Hobbs saddles three, including top weight Cheltenian, which allows the better-fancied Sternrubin to run off a more appealing mark under Richard Johnson. At an even bigger price, I can see Zarib improving on his last run behind Sternrubin at Ascot as he could never strike a blow from an unpromising position.
Last year’s Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase hero Dodging Bullets comes out of winter storage in the Betfair-sponsored Game Spirit Chase but he will do well to concede 8lb to race-fit L’AMI SERGE (3.00). Nicky Henderson’s six-year-old made all to score at Wetherby in January and the merit of his earlier 27-length thrashing of Doctor Harper at Plumpton (heavy) has since been well advertised.
Whatever the fate of stable star Dodging Bullets, Paul Nicholls should be among the winners with ROCKY CREEK (2.25) in the Betfair Denman Chase, a race he will be keen to plunder for obvious reasons. Rocky Creek was beaten eight lengths by Don Cossack at Down Royal on his comeback in late October and a line can be put through a pulled up effort at Aintree when he was hampered in the Betfred Grand Sefton Chase.
Some disappointing/inconsistent types contest the Betfair Acca Edge Handicap Hurdle over three miles and it may be best left to SYKES (1.50) representing the Hobbs/Johnson combo. A three-time winner, Sykes found three miles on very deep ground at Chepstow in January a bit too taxing (fourth) but had earlier run third to impressive Missed Approach over course and distance at the Hennessy fixture in November.
The concluding bumper may fall to BALLYANDY (4.45). Nigel Twiston-Davies’ gelding incurred a 4lb penalty for scoring at Cheltenham in November but it didn’t stop him running a cracker (second) at Ascot in a Listed bumper. Full Irish, eight lengths adrift in third, reopposes on the same terms and the Mullins-trained Bleu Berry, second in a three-horse event at Nantes, is the dark horse in the line-up.
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